DNA testing identifies Japanese soldier killed in Battle of Okinawa

July 25 2013, Ryukyu Shimpo

A DNA test carried out by the Ministry of Health, Labor and Welfare has identified remains found at Makabi, Naha, as those of a soldier from Tokyo killed in the Battle of Okinawa. The Ministry revealed this on July 24. It has conducted DNA analysis of remains of war dead since 2003. This is the second case in which DNA testing has identified such remains. The Japanese soldier was a member of an artillery platoon attached to the 15th Independent Mixed Regiment. The ministry has withheld the man’s identity in keeping with the wishes of the bereaved family.

The bones were found during road construction work in March 2010. The volunteer group Gamafuya, which has worked collecting remains of war dead, searched for the man’s family through newspapers in other prefectures but was unable to gain any information. The DNA test proved crucial in finding the bereaved family.

The ministry identified the dead artilleryman by comparing his DNA to that of his family. President of Gamafuya, Takamatsu Gushiken, was critical of the slow response of the ministry. He said, “As many as 200,000 people died in the Battle of Okinawa but only two bereaved families have been located using DNA testing.” He suggested that the government should create a database for the bereaved families by carrying out DNA tests for all who request one. Gushiken said, “Using such a database, the government would be able to quickly match remains to bereaved families.”

(English translation by T&CT, Mark Ealey)

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